Kirby saga exposes bad governance – Gaolathe
Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe
Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe has opined that the saga involving President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, who was mentioned in the infamous Panama papers serves to expose the lapses of the country’s governance system.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president expressed that while the mention of a prominent judge’s name should not cause the conclusion that he is involved in illegal activity, he said as an able judge, he should have been aware that the law firm he used did not enjoy an impeccable reputation, even at the time.
“The concealment of shareholders in general, in such companies, also means a possible concealment of names of individuals that may have to be tried before the courts at some point, before a judge who may be conflicted, without anyone knowing. These are some of the matters that the Judge President sought to clear in a recent interview,” he told Weekend Post.
Gaolathe said the question of whether Justice Kirby should or should not resign misses the more pertinent questions as the main concern should be whether the judiciary in Botswana is becoming less and less independent of the executive.
“Is our system becoming less fairer? Is ours a deteriorating democracy? The answer is an emphatic yes; our entire system of Governance is deteriorating, if not disintegrating,” he asserted.
Gaolathe remarked that in a robust democracy, the country’s system would have a freedom of information or declaration legislation as reference on which it would have been a simple matter to assess the mention of anyone’s name on the Panama papers.
In Kirby’s particular situation, Gaolathe said, a more independent judiciary would have issued, as an institution, a statement clearing the air and making plain the facts that reinforce the hope that the institution remains intact, and possessing all the ingredients and the personnel to sustain, enhance and pursue its role as a fair and independent judiciary.
“This has not been done, or if it has been done, it was done in a way that is too little to notice. The executive branch of the BDP-led Government, through its acts of unduly imposing its will, first on the country’s legislature, and now on the judiciary, is planting the seeds for the disintegration of our democracy,” he stated.
“With a weakened legislature, and now an increasingly weakening judiciary, Botswana’s system of governance is deteriorating and it will become more difficult to conjure the confidence of the people.”
According to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) secretary general, what the Panama papers are doing is simply to expose the lapses of our governance system.
He contends that Botswana needs a fresher constitutional framework, more robust governance and transparency laws and fairer budgetary investment in the other branches of Government outside the executive.
Gaolathe decried the state of Botswana’s judiciary as he expressed that many observers in the past suggest that Botswana’s judiciary was for a long time, considered relatively independent and fair.
“Those in the know mention that the greatest institutional reform of Botswana’s judiciary transpired during Julian Nganunu’s tenure as Chief Justice,” he said.
“The greatest improvement during his tenure was a simple, yet a fundamental one: he secured the resources necessary for judges to do their work freely and unconstrained, supported by an administrative and intellectual infrastructure.”
Gaolathe said despite such achievement, recent years have brought scrutiny to the state of our judiciary because appointments to the bench have tended to favour candidates with links or known sympathy to the ruling party, at the expense of more able candidates whose political affiliation were deemed mysterious.
“A case in point is that of Motumisi (Omphemetse), an impeccable legal intellect with an unimpeachable sense of fairness and devotion to justice in general, who was overlooked by our judicial selection system, but who would have made it to the finest benches anywhere else in the world,” he claimed.
“By far one of the most worrisome epochs in the evolution of our judiciary was the suspension of three or four judges – Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Justice Rainer Busang – from the bench last year, for unclear reasons.”
Gaolathe opines that the matter could have been resolved administratively, by applying some provisions of the Public Finance and Management Act.
“The involvement of the executive whether directly or indirectly in this decision and process is a major indictment on the current Government’s commitment to an independent judiciary,” he expressed.
“This is a major question about our country, because it touches the heart of whether we are a genuine democracy or serious about becoming one, or whether we continue to regress and gravitate towards a subtle dictatorship, a subtle autocracy, a subtle hard-fisted state controlled by a mafia that is able to camouflage behind a ruling party, a mafia dictated to by the secret and destructive acts of the DIS.”
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The curtain came down at the PAP session with pomp and FUNFAIR
It was pomp and funfair at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on March 18 as the African Cultural Music and Dance Association (ACUMDA) brought the curtains down on the PAP session with a musical performance.
The occasion was the celebration of the Pan-African Parliament Day (PAP Day) which commemorated the inauguration of the first Parliament of the PAP on 18 March 2004 at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The celebrations took place at the seat of the Parliament in Midrand to “reflect on the journey” as the institution turns 19. The event sought to retrace the origin and context of the establishment of the PAP.
The celebrations included musical performances by ACUMDA and a presentation by Prof. Motshekga Mathole of the Kara Heritage Institute on “Whither Pan-Africanism, African Culture, and Heritage.”
The PAP Day was officially launched in 2021 to educate citizens about the Continental Parliament and ignite conversations about its future in line with its mandate.
The establishment of the PAP among the AU organs signalled a historical milestone and the most important development in the strengthening of the AU institutional architecture. It laid solid groundwork for democratic governance and oversight within the African Union system and provided a formal “platform for the peoples of Africa to get involved in discussions and decision-making on issues affecting the continent.”
The genesis of the PAP can be legally traced back to 1991 with the adoption of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community, adopted on June 3, 1991, in Abuja (also known as the Abuja Treaty). This treaty defined the pillars and grounds for realizing economic development and integration in Africa and called for the creation of a continental parliament, among a set of other organs, as tools for the realization of African integration and economic development. This call was reemphasized in the Sirte Declaration of 1999, which called for the accelerated implementation of the provisions of the Abuja Treaty.
PAP celebrated its ten years of existence in March 2014, a year which coincided with the adoption, on June 27, 2014, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, of the Protocol to the Constitutive Act of the African Union relating to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP Malabo Protocol), which, once in force, will transform the PAP into a legislative body of the AU. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.
Therefore, the commemoration of PAP Day serves as a reminder to the decision-makers around the continent to fulfil their commitment to the PAP by ratifying its Protocol, 19 years after sanctioning its establishment. 14 AU member states have so far ratified the Malabo Protocol.
The celebrations of PAP Day coincided with the closing ceremony of the sitting of the PAP Permanent Committees and other organs. The Sitting took place in Midrand, South Africa under the AU theme for 2023, “Accelerating the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)” from 6 to 17 March 2023.
PAP President, H.E. Chief Fortune Charumbira, expressed appreciation to members for their commitment during the two-week engagement.
“We have come to the end of our program, and it is appropriate that we end on a high note with the PAP Day celebrations.
“We will, upon your return to your respective countries, ensure that the work achieved over the past two weeks is transmitted to the national level for the benefit of our citizens,” concluded H.E. Chief Charumbira.
PAP needs to priorities land issues-Prof Mathole
Prof Motshekga Mathole of the Kara Heritage Institute has advised the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) to prioritise the land issue in the continent if they are to remain relevant.
He said this while addressing the Plenary during the commemoration of PAP Day held at the PAP Chambers in Midrand, South Africa
The PAP Day was officially launched in 2021 to commemorate the inauguration of the first Parliament on 18 March 2004 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Intended as a platform for people of all African states to be involved in discussions and decision-making on problems and challenges facing the continent.
In a speech titled “Whither Pan-Africanism, African Culture, and Heritage,” Prof Mathole stated that for PAP to remain relevant, it must address the continent’s key land dilemma, which he feels is the core cause of all problems plaguing the continent
“If this Parliament is to be taken seriously, ownership of land and natural resources must be prioritized at the national and continental levels. Africans are not poor; they are impoverished by imperialist nations that continue to hold African land and natural resources,” said Prof Mathole.
“When African leaders took power from colonialists, they had to cope with poverty, unemployment, and other issues, but they ignored land issues. That is why Africa as a whole is poor today. Because our land and minerals are still in the hands of colonizers, Africa must rely on Ukraine for food and Europe for medical.”
Prof Mathole believes that the organization of the masses is critical as cultural revolution is the only solution to Africa’s most problems.
“We need a cultural revolution for Africa, and that revolution can only occur if the masses and people are organized. First, we need a council of African monarchs since they are the keepers of African arts, culture, and heritage. We need an African traditional health practitioners council because there is no ailment on the planet that cannot be healed by Africans; the only problem is that Africans do not harvest and process their own herbs,” he said.
Meanwhile, PAP President, H.E. Hon Chief Fortune Charumbira expressed satisfaction with the commitment displayed throughout the two-week period and said the PAP Day celebrations were befitting curtains down to the august event.
“On this high note of our two-week engagement, it is appropriate that we close our program on a high note with PAP celebrations, and I would like to thank everyone for your commitment, and please continue to be committed,” said H.E Hon Chief Charumbira.
PAP’s purpose as set out in Article 17 of the African Union Constitutive Act, is “to ensure the full participation of African people in the development and economic integration of the continent”. As it stands, the mandate of the Parliament extends to consultation and playing an advisory and oversight role for all AU organs pending the ratification protocol.
Also known as the Malabo Protocol, the Protocol to the consultative act of the AU relating to the PAP was adopted at the Assembly of Heads of State and Government summit in June 2014 and is intended to extend the powers of the PAP into a fully-fledged legislative organ. It requires a minimum of 28 countries to ratify it before it comes into force.
The commemoration of the PAP Day, therefore, serves as a reminder to the decision-makers around the continent to fulfil their commitment to the PAP by ratifying its Protocol, 17 years after sanctioning its establishment. 14 AU member states have so far ratified the Malabo Protocol.
The PAP Day commemoration also aims to educate citizens about the PAP and ignite conversations about the future of the continental Parliament in line with its mandate.
DPP drops Kably threat to kill case
The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng/Lephephe Liakat Kably has welcomed the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s decision not to prosecute BDP councillor, Meshack Tshenyego who allegedly threatened to kill him. However, the legislator has warned that should anything happen to his life, the state and the courts will have to account.
In an interview with this publication, Kablay said he has heard that the DPP has declined to prosecute Tshenyego in a case in which he threatened to kill him adding that the reasons he received are that there was not enough evidence to prosecute. “I am fine and at peace with the decision not to prosecute over evidential deficits but I must warn that should anything happen to my life both the DPP and the Magistrate will have to account,” Kablay said.
Connectedly, Kably said he has made peace with Tshenyego, “we have made peace and he even called me where upon we agreed to work for the party and bury the hatchet”.
The DPP reportedly entered into a Nolle Prosequi in the matter, meaning that no action would be taken against the former Letlhakeng Sub-district council chairperson and currently councillor for Matshwabisi.
According to the charge sheet before the Court, councilor Tshenyego on July 8th, 2022 allegedly threatened MP Kably by indirectly uttering the following words to nominatedcouncilor Anderson Molebogi Mathibe, “Mosadi wa ga Liakat le ban aba gagwe ba tsile go lela, Mosadi wame le banake le bone ba tsile go lela. E tla re re mo meeting, ka re tsena meeting mmogo, ke tla mo tlolela a bo ke mmolaya.”
Loosely translated this means, Liakat’s wife and children are going to shed tears and my wife and kids will shed tears too. I will jump on him and kill him during a meeting.
Mathibe is said to have recorded the meeting and forwarded it to Kably who reported the matter to the police.
In a notice to the Magistrate Court to have the case against Tshenyego, acting director of Public Prosecutions, Wesson Manchwe cited the nolle prosequi by the director of public prosecution in terms of section 51 A (30) of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana as reasons for dropping the charges.
A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
“In pursuance of my powers under section 51 A (300 of the Constitution and section 10 of the criminal procedure and evidence act (CAP 08:02) laws of Botswana, I do hereby stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against the accused Meshack Tshenyego in the Kweneng Administrative District, CR.No.1077/07/2022 being the case of the State vs Tshenyego,” said Manchwe. The acting director had drafted the notice dropping the charges on 13th day of March 2023.
The case then resumed before the Molepolole Magistrate Solomon Setshedi on the 14th of March 2023. The Magistrate issued an order directing “that matters be withdrawn with prejudice to the State, accused is acquitted and discharged.”